Letter to the Editor: Support Our Police

In the wake of the Republican Convention, I have seen signs saying, “Support Our Police,” as if this institution belongs to one political party. It doesn’t! Democrats and Republicans alike are responsible for the tremendous increase in funding for police departments across the U.S. since the 1980s, and for the policies that supported a cultural tendency to see all Black men as potentially dangerous. 

I just watched an excellent film on PBS, Black America Since MLK (available on YouTube), that clarifies how this happened, and I strongly recommend it. But here I will emphasize that Democrats, Black and white, want healthy police departments as much as anyone else. 

As the Democratic candidate for president, Joe Biden has said, Democrats do not support violence on either side of the current cultural divide. We are not extremists. We believe in the constitutional right to protest and to put forward ideas in the public square. 

The “Defund the Police” slogan was one such idea, and it is under discussion in city councils across the country. Biden does not support it. Other ideas include more training and education for police, better support from other agencies, and more effective ways to address the poverty and inequality that breed crime and despair. 

Having overdone incarceration with the “three strikes” approach, we all need to address the pervasive cultural suspicion of Black men that has led recently to so many tragic incidents. Each man is an individual with his own story.

The honorable job of police in the U.S. is to “serve and protect” us. We all need to think together about how to curb the quick recourse to violence that endangers both us and them.

Estella Lauter

Fish Creek, Wisconsin